Business | Tourism

Sofitel to add six hotels in Middle East and Africa

Two properties due to open in Dubai later this year

  • By Sarah AlgethamiSpecial to Gulf News
  • Published: 12:31 January 15, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News
  • Sami Nasser, senior vice president of Sofitel Middle East, Africa and the Indian Ocean, said the two hotels planned in Dubai will add over 1,200 rooms to the UA E hotel pipeline.

Dubai: Luxury hotel chain, Sofitel, is expanding its regional footprint with two hotels opening later this year in Dubai, and six more in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) over the next two years, according to a senior executive at the hotel company.

The two Dubai hotels will be located in Downtown Dubai and the Palm Jumeirah, and will add “over 1,200 rooms” to the UAE hotel pipeline, Sami Nasser, senior vice president of Sofitel Middle East, Africa and the Indian Ocean, told Gulf News in an interview.

Elsewhere in the region, the two hotels in Saudi Arabia — in Riyadh and Makkah — will be operational in 2015; one in Morroco is due to open in 2014; and one in Abidjan is slated for opening this year, Nasser said, adding Sofitel is also planning to open properties in key cities within Qatar and Kuwait in the next few years.

Speaking of Sofitel Downtown, Nasser said: “We wanted to do a hotel that is different from all the hotels in Dubai. So in terms of design, this will be very interesting.”

Standing 31 storeys high, Sofitel Downtown will have 350 rooms and suites. It has a “corporate focus”, according to Nasser, who explained that the hotel is targeted at business visitors who can benefit from the hotel’s 12 meeting rooms, and its close proximity to Burj Khalifa and the Dubai International Financial Centre.

The Palm Jumeirah property, on the other hand, will be a luxury Polynesian-themed resort boasting 361 rooms and 182 serviced residences, along a stretch of private beach.

Even as some hotel projects on the Palm Jumeirah have been either stopped or stalled, Nasser says that will not deter investors from putting their money on the Palm.

“The Palm is sold as a destination,” he said, adding that tourists will still want to stay on the Palm Jumeirah.

Currently, Sofitel is not looking to add to its four hotels in the UAE — three in Dubai (one in Jumeirah Beach Residence-JBR and the two planned) and one in Abu Dhabi, Nasser said.

Last year, Sofitel JBR finished off with an occupancy rate of over 80 per cent, according to Nasser. Additionally, he expects that RevPAR (revenue per available room — an industry benchmark for performance) for Sofitel properties in the region will be up eight per cent over the next two years. Sofitel is French hotel giant Accor’s luxury hotel brand. Accor operates over 3,500 luxury and budget hotels worldwide, including Pullman, Novotel and ibis. There are 120 Sofitel hotels in 40 countries across North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific. Sofitel expects to open hotels in China, Germany, Ukraine and Singapore in 2013 and 2014.

— Sarah Algethami is a trainee at Gulf News

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